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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Iraqi Civilians Die in Raid, Complicating Pullout Talks!

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By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, / Published: August 6, 2011.

BAGHDAD — For the second time in a week, a joint Iraqi-American raid aiming at insurgents resulted in the killing of civilians.

Witnesses in the village of Ishaqi, just south of Tikrit, said Iraqi and American forces opened fire on civilians and threw grenades early Friday as they conducted the raid. The villagers said the forces were responding to gunfire from people in the village and then fired back, killing a 13-year-old boy and an off-duty police officer.

American military officials acknowledged that there was an operation but offered few details.

“This was an Iraqi-planned and -led counterterrorism operation,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, an American military spokesman, said in a statement. “The operation was enabled by U.S. support that included helicopters. Also, there was a small number of U.S. advisers taking part in the operation, although it was predominantly Iraqi forces, and they were in charge of all activities on the ground.”

General Buchanan said that “because of the fighting that ensued” additional American forces responded. “They secured the area but were not engaged in the operation,” he said. The statement did not say if the original American forces on the ground fired their weapons.

A spokesman for the Iraqi special forces declined to comment.

The operation, coming so soon after a botched raid on July 30, is sure to complicate politically fraught talks over whether American troops should remain in Iraq after the end of the year.

Amid pressure from American officials, who privately say some troops should remain, the Iraqi government announced on Wednesday that it would begin negotiations about a continued American troop presence.

Some politicians were already railing against the Americans for Friday’s raid, criticizing troops in the local press for once again violating Iraq’s sovereignty.

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